The Chinese Room

Here is an artificial intelligence riddle of sorts. There is an English bloke locked in a room. There is room enough under the door to the room to slide a single sheet of paper. The guy frequently finds papers shoved under the door.

The papers the guy in the room receives has strange markings on them. However he has a big book in the room. The book provides instructions on how to formulate responses to the papers that come into the room. The English gent follows these instructions to the tee. He composes similar sheets with weird markings in accordance to the Book of Knowledge in the room. He then slides these response papers back under the door out of the room.

On the outside, there are a bunch of Chinese scholars. They pose tough questions written in the Chinese language to the guy in the room. They write their questions on pieces of paper in Chinese. Each of them is amazed at the answers that come back out written in perfect Chinese. These scholars presume that a great Chinese scholar is on the other side of the door in the room. However this guy does not speak or read Chinese. He just follows the instructions from the big book.

Does the room speak Chinese? Or more specifically, does the system know as the room know Chinese? If it does, you probably could concoct a computer that thinks using a similar process. Once you know what is behind the code used to run the program, you will know that the computer can't think. However from the outside, it would be difficult for one to tell the difference. Such a computer program might be able to pass the Turing Test.